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New goal for schools football

The Scottish Football Association is to launch an award scheme aimed at improving skill levels in schools. Details to be revealed this month are likely to meet with approval from the independent "think-tank" set up to look at the state of the game in Scotland.

Jim Sinclair, the SFA's children's programme director, says the scheme will be on six different levels and will encourage group and individual work on skills such as passing, shooting, dribbling and heading.

"No child will fail as there will be certificates and pennants for passing various levels," Mr Sinclair says. "The scheme will be aimed at the 5-12 age-group but we don't really want to put a ceiling on it as older children may think it is not cool, to use their parlance, to do it if it is for 12-year-olds. We see the schools as very important to the success of the scheme. We have the material ready to go out and I will be surprised if it is not launched within the next month."

He is confident the think-tank will back the Soccer Sevens programme which has already proved so successful. A development association has been set up to oversee the game.

There are 10,000 children playing Sevens under the auspices of the SFA and Mr Sinclair believes there are many more around the country. However, the take-up of purpose-made goalposts was initially poor among schools and the SFA is to address this.

"Of the 2,600 schools that we offered goalposts to, only 250 responded. I think a lot of them saw the Pounds 600 cost and put the letter in the bin but since a follow-up letter there are now 1,300 schools with the goalposts," Mr Sinclair says. "That is a 50 per cent response which I am reasonably happy with as you have to consider that some schools will not have the area to use them."

In spite of the success of the seven-a-side game, many schools continue to play competitive 11-a-side matches. Mr Sinclair is philosophical. "To be fair, it would represent a problem to us if everyone had stopped playing 11-a-side overnight. We do not have the resources to put it in place at that notice and it is probably better that some have not come around yet," he said.

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